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Edward Adams is Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at King’s College London. He is the author of Stars Will Fall from Heaven: ‘Cosmic Catastrophe’ in the New Testament and Its World and coeditor of Christianity at Corinth: The Quest for the Pauline Church.  His most recent book, Parallel Lives of Jesus, invites the reader, even the average Joe in the pew like myself, to consider why there are four accounts of the life of Jesus ( Why not just have have one ? ) and take a fresh look at the four canonical gospels and the qualities that make them unique.

The book is divided up into three parts. First Adams discusses his approach to the gospels. Then he looks at each of the Gospels and their narrative features. Finally Adams puts six episodes ( The Baptism of Jesus, The Feeding of the Five Thousand, The Walking on the Water, The Transfiguration, The Death of Jesus, The Empty Tomb ) found in all the gospels side by side.

The author is very thorough and consistent in his examination of the gospel accounts. The fundamental question Adams addresses in the book is not a new one. The author himself notes his research is building on the work of one of his colleagues Richard Burridge who is the author of Four Gospels, One Jesus? What Edward Adams does is draw a structural parallel between the gospels and Plutarch’s Parallel Lives to offer a literary perspective on the gospels. Since the Bible is literature, Adams looks at literary devices like characterization, style, theme and setting. He also connects the structure of ”the same story told four ways” to the films Vantage Point and Roshomon as well as the Iain Pears novel An Instance of the Fingerpost.

Through the comparisons that Edward Adams draws to Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and modern films and novels he effectively gives a perspective on the gospels that is in depth and accessible. Amongst the many other approaches a person can take to reading the Bible ( such as Historical, Archeological, and Cultural ) Parallel Lives of Jesus will be very practical for anyone wanting to develop a deeper understanding of the gospels as well as a helpful resource for Churches and Universities.

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